Top 9 Places for Network Engineers in the US
Networks don't just happen, and no one knows that better than network engineers. Even wiring a couple of computers together, connecting them to a switch, and getting a small home network up and running is more complicated than many people are capable of. A good network engineer, can make or break a modern company's bottom line.
That's because designing an enterprise-ready network takes years of training and experience. Someone has to perform a full-blown usage audit to determine how much, of what type, equipment to buy. Someone has to analyze the actual network traffic and decide what network coverage is going to look like. Someone has to anticipate security, high availability and maintenance needs and accommodate it all.
If you want the job done right, that someone had better be a network engineer. And if you're a network engineer, here's a bit of good news: your job is one of the most in-demand IT jobs in America. We've performed an extensive audit of job sites, position descriptions, and done a thorough scouring of all the IT jobs available across the web, and there are more positions for network engineers than any other IT job we tracked. Check out our interactive State of IT Jobs map to perform your own IT job research.
We've broken down the demand for network engineer jobs in a few different ways. First, the cities in America with the highest demand. Then, the states with the most demand — and where at in those states to find them. Last, we'll take a look at what you can do to make yourself an attractive candidate for network engineer positions.
Top 6 Cities That Need Network Engineers
Network engineer is one of the few jobs in our long list of IT positions that has high demand in all 50 states. This is hardly surprising, as more and more companies and organizations are looking to expand their digital footprint online. The tumultuous events of 2020 have led to more employees working from home than ever. The need for high-availability, cloud-driven, secure networks has never been higher.
Washington, D.C. tops our list of job postings and available positions that a network engineer could fill. In fact, if you're a network engineer looking for work, the northeastern seaboard is a quite possibly the best place to start. This is hardly surprising: an enormous amount of private and government work is done in the National Capital Region. If you know how to keep that traffic moving rapidly and — most importantly for many of those organizations — completely securely, you might start your job search in D.C.
New York City comes in at number two for postings and positions that a network engineer would feel comfortable in. Huge amounts of data flow through New York, the home of some of the largest, most profitable financial institutions and brokerages. If the idea of keeping Wall Street running excites you, positions for anyone with their Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert, or CCIE, abound in the Big Apple.
Chicago, Illinois is number three on our list of cities that need network engineers. Chicago is an enormous, sprawling collection of major metropolitan areas, suburbs and exurb developments, and there are positions to match. The industries of Chicago range from headquarters for banks, like BMO, and insurance, like Allstate, to major distributing centers for Culligan and Kraft, to technology hubs like Groupon or GrubHub.
The West Coast should get an honorable mention for having spots 4, 5, and 6 for network engineers. Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose, all in California, don't come in on the top 3, but make a strong showing nonetheless. Taken as a whole, the enormous state of California boasts network engineer positions all throughout the state. However, the densest population centers are generally where IT positions can be found.
Top 3 States for Network Engineer Positions
We've covered the major metropolitan areas that have the most positions for network engineers. Now we'll look at the states that have the most positions a network engineer could fill, and where in those states to look more closely.
New York state tops the list of states looking for network engineers, and that's largely because NYC's demand is so high. Manhattan, Brooklyn, Long Island and Astoria all top the list of cities inside New York that are looking for network engineers. But Rochester and Albany also have huge demand, and they're far removed from NYC and its boroughs.
The second state looking for network engineers is Virginia. If you're unfamiliar with Northern Virginia, or "NorVa," you might be surprised to learn that it's one of the densest collections of high-technology providers in the country. The interesting history of why Northern Virginia is home to some of the world's biggest server farms, most sprawling networks, and highest security technology research boils down to three words: the Cold War. But network engineers can still reap the rewards of that today: the vast majority of positions for network engineers in Virginia are within 40 miles of Washington, D.C.
California comes in at number three on our list of states looking for network engineers. And California differs from the other states at the top of our list: the top four cities are scattered across the state. Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, and San Diego are all in fierce competition for the metro area that posts the most open job positions for network engineers.
What Makes a Network Engineer Competitive?
Work experience is always going to be a determining factor for just about any position, but in the world of network engineering, there's an even more important factor: certifications. Industry certifications do much more than just give you a pretty logo you can put on your resume (but they do give you that).
Certifications do three things. First, they're proof from an external source that you're the expert you claim to be. Certifications from industry leaders like CompTIA, Cisco, Microsoft, and the EC-Council aren't just notoriously challenging, they're universally respected — because they're notoriously challenging.
Second, they demonstrate your ability to actually do the job. Although there are a handful of entry-level certifications that rely on theory and facts, once you're dealing with higher level certifications, simply studying won't be enough. More and more certification providers are developing their exams to reflect real-world, hands-on experience of a professional in the field. Especially at the level of network engineers, the only people earning the certifications are those with tangible abilities in the job itself.
On top of all that, a certification can help you rest assured that there's no part of the job that you've overlooked. If you've been working in the field for several years, you might imagine you've got all the bases covered, but maybe what you thought as a hard-and-fast rule only applies to your unique network plan. A certification helps you round out your career by forcing you to prepare and study for all aspects of network engineering.
It's a good time to be a network engineer. Organizations big and small, all over the country, are looking for network engineers to expand their networks at a scale and speed never seen before. Even if you don't find yourself in D.C., NYC, Chicago, California or Virginia, if you're a network engineer looking for work, you shouldn't have to go far to land a great, new position. Try out our State of IT Jobs map today to see what the network engineer job landscape looks like in your area — or your dream locale.